A perception is sometimes created in church circles that sexuality is only relevant in marriage. Or maybe most relevant in marriage. Recent reporting and discussion around Pope Paul Vi’s Humanae Vitae on the occasion of its 50th anniversary tends to give that impression. Granted that monogamous, faithful, life-long marriages between a man and a woman are an ideal place for a fulfilling sexual relationship but there is also more to it than that. Half of the world’s adults are not married. Every human being is a sexual being. Sexuality is not only a part of who we are, it is central to who we are whether we are feminist, patriarchal, wonder-woman, macho-man, confused young adult or a member of the LGBTI community.
We all need to love and be loved, to belong, to be autonomous, to have self-worth. All that is closely linked to our gender identity. “Sexuality does matter,” an article in the upcoming FAMILY MATTERS magazine, also published on www.marfam.org.za explores this subject a little more deeply.
Women’s month is celebrated each year in South Africa. Women’s Day is 9th August. On this day we often make an effort to “celebrate” our womanhood with partying and pampering. However during the month a strong focus each year is on gender-based violence, being the scourge it is in our South African society. Two recent tragic suicides of well-known persons from the educational setting have occurred. Professor Mayosi, a highly respected academic and researcher from the University of Cape Town is said to have suffered from depression relating to harassment after the #FEESMUSTFALL campaign. Khensani Maseko, a student leader has taken her own life after being raped at Rhodes university.
These incidents while both not directly related to sexuality certainly have an element of relational trauma, personal or social. How the need to be loved and belong is played out is personal but can also be expressed in gender-related ways. Are men genuinely tougher, less emotional, or do they hide their emotional side better until it surfaces dramatically? Is rape so common these days that we may even be surprised that it should have such a drastic consequence? Are we not a deeply traumatised society in need of healing?
Woman writers have given us some meaningful quotes. Yoko Ono, widow of Beatle John Lennon wrote “Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world just start thinking peace, and the message will spread quicker than you think.”
One of the world’s youngest female activists, Malala Yousafza, inspires us after surviving her ordeal of being shot in the head by the Taliban. Her campaign is the right to education of children. When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
When we pray the “I confess” at Mass and say the words, “in my thoughts and in my deeds, what I have done and what I have failed to do” we could stop a moment and think, “Did I express my needs in thoughts and words to those I love and trust? Did I take what action I could to spread the peace and love that should have been born and nurtured in my family and spread it to others?”
The WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES in Ireland is drawing closer. May it bring family love and joy to all.
Almighty God, You are father and mother to us, your children.
We thank you for the particular and special gifts you have given to women, the gift of nurturing life, of sustaining and supporting life, the qualities of compassion, commitment, generosity and a willingness to share.
As they progress towards their rightful place in society we request your blessing on all women that they may continue also to hold their rightful place in the family. that women and men together may build a society which will bring about the Kingdom You have promised us.
We call on Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who nurtured and cared for her son and now reigns with Him in heaven to inspire the women of South Africa, to pray with them in their joys and in their struggles, and to intercede for them with her Son.
Mary, Queen assumed into heaven, patroness of South Africa, pray for us.